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The Laurel and Hardy Film That Never Was
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The extent of Laurel and Hardy's popularity always surprises. In a recent (repeated) BBC TV episode of the "wartime" unlikely comedy 'Allo 'Allo, a Gestapo officer chides his girlfriend for being late for the movies. He says angrily: "I haff two tickets for a film featuring Herr Stanley Laurel and Herr Oliver Hardy, and I am left standing in ze foyer holding a bag of chocolate fudge".

But that was nothing compared with the admiration of an archetypal "oil magnate" of earlier decades, who planned to use some of his millions to bring Laurel and Hardy back to the screens with a new film.
Glenn McCarthy started his working life as a labourer in the fledgling oil industry in Texas. He soon became disillusioned with the meagre wages he received compared with the value of the product literally coming out of the ground, and in a few short years started his own company, McCarthy Oil. His riches quickly piled up and much of his lavish expenditure was in tribute to his Irish ancestry.
McCarthy became more and more interested in films and started his own movie company Glenn McCarthy Productions.
He was also one of the most devoted fans of Laurel and Hardy and wished there was a way of re-creating their magic as the classic duo in Roach style, in the 1940s. His project was a Laurel and Hardy movie called You Can't Do That. The story was of the classic Stan and Ollie working in a radio station, resulting in the usual mayhem. Both Stan and Babe showed interest in the project but as always, Babe left it to Stan to deal with the business and creativity.
As with most McCarthy projects the budget was unlimited, but also as with most McCarthy projects, it was highly speculative, poorly researched and chaotic. It never came to anything, but McCarthy and Stan remained friends.
Instead the studio concentrated on  The Green Promise, which was released in 1949. McCarthy spared no expense and cast Natalie Wood in a leading role together with Walter Brennan. It was directed by William D. Russell, an inexperienced but promising Director, whose few credits included Ladies Man (1947). Russell later went into television and was perhaps best know as the Director of the Perry Mason series.
The Green Promise did not live up to its promise and McCarthy became disillusioned with the film industry. If it had been successful he might well have progressed with the Laurel and Hardy idea, but even the copyright was mishandled and pirating was common even then.
But McCarthy''s mind was really on his dream - the Shamrock Hotel, on the outskirts of Houston. This was an 18-storey Art Deco monolith with over 1,000 luxury rooms and what was claimed to be the largest swimming pool in the world at the time.
McCarthy''s Irish roots were precious to him and in addition to flooding the enormous building in green lights the furniture, fittings and upholstery were in 63 shades of green and many features of the hotel reflected Ireland, including The Emerald Room casino lounge.
[Image: 220px-Shamrock_houston.jpg] The completed Shamrock Hotel

Predictably, the grand opening was scheduled for St. Patrick's Day, in 1949. The guest list was a "who's who" of Hollywood at the time, including Stan Laurel, but there is no mention of Babe in any of the reports. Guests were either flown in on a specially acquired (from Howard Hughes) Boeing 307 aircraft or - like Stan - brought on specially designed trains, equipped to the most lavish standards of luxury.
Media reports of the opening ceremony and "greatest party of all time" exhausted all superlatives and no records for catering, gathering, expense or ingenuity were left intact. Counting the revellers stopped at 50,000 and there were reports of plenty more. Cost estimates of $1 million were derided as "nowhere near" the true higher amount.
[Image: POSTMcCarthy2.jpg] 
Glenn McCarthy at the Shamrock Hotel opening.
 McCarthy also founded the KXYZ radio station and dozens of other enterprises, but somehow became insolvent around 1952, and sold the Shamrock to the Hilton Hotels corporation. It was later demolished.
His amazing life and career inspired the movie Giant, with James Dean playing him as the character Jett Fink. Giant of course was directed by George Stevens, who began his movie career as a cameraman at Roach Studios. He shot around 30 Laurel and Hardy movies as well as a number of Stan and Babe solo silent movies. The popular Blotto and Big Business were his handiwork.
McCarthy died in 1988 leaving five children. He could also have left us another Laurel and Hardy movie, but it was not to be. Maybe someone said "You Can't Do That".
 
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